Welcome to Germany

Germany offers you a lot of beautiful things: delightfully elegant big cities, picture-perfect small towns, pagan-inspired harvest festivals, plenty of art and culture, as well as the timeless comforts of vast forested areas and magnificent castles, and, among other amenities, good wine and good beer. Reunification in 1990 marked the beginning of another chapter in Germany’s complicated history. You will not be untouched by this country’s past and its impact on Germans.

Best time to visit Germany

In Germany, the weather is changeable; so you should be prepared for anything throughout the year. However, the best weather is usually between May and October, which, except for winter sports tourism, is of course the tourist season. In the off-season there are fewer tourists and often surprisingly pleasant temperatures. Germany does not have a particularly rainy season.

Highlights in Germany

Berlin

The power and influence of Prussian achievements are evident in Berlin, one of the world’s most fascinating cultural capitals. Since it spread out on both sides of the Spree River in the 13th century, the city has been strategically important, but never in its history has it taken center stage as it did in the 20th century. Here, in its grand public buildings, great museums and theaters, urban restaurants, crowded pubs and smoky nightclubs, beats the heart of Germany. Today, Berlin is once again the nation’s capital and the focal point of the mammoth reunification project. Nowhere else can you feel the pulse of the country as well as here.

Berlin is easy to explore on foot. Take time for a walk along Unter den Linden from Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate. Nearby is the Kulturforum, a group of museums and concert halls in the southeast of Tiergarten that will take days to visit. The same goes for the Museum Island.

Berlin, Germany

Photo: pixabay/Kai_Vogel

Munich

If you scratch Munich’s beer-soaked sausage-belly image, you’ll find a city that’s as cosmopolitan as many other cities in Europe. From the giddy elegance of the grand shopping streets to the Schuhplättler dancing in the beer cellar, the people of Munich know how to have a good time. Munich is a compact and friendly mix of intricate elegance and lack of inhibition, with more theaters than any other German city, wonderful museums and magnificent parks – and, of course, a few thousand beer cellars.

There’s no getting around the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest museum of science and technology: with its many hands-on exhibits and demos of fascinating human achievements from mining to astronomy, there’s no room for boredom. The English Garden is one of the largest inner-city parks in Europe, and, yes that’s right, the businessmen you just saw downtown are the same ones now sunbathing naked on the manicured lawn!

If you’ve had enough of city life, there are plenty of excursions you can take from Munich: On a clear day, the Bavarian Alps beckon from afar, and the Romantic Road, which runs through picturesque villages like Rothenburg ob der Tauber in western Bavaria, is also worth a visit. A more melancholy destination awaits northwest of the city: the grim Dachau concentration camp.

München, Germany

Photo: pixabay/flyupmikel

Frankfurt

Frankfurt am Main (so named so that American generals would learn to distinguish it from Frankfurt an der Oder) is the geographic and financial center of western Germany. Its residents produce an above-average share of Germany’s wealth. Over 10% of the city’s budget goes to culture; Frankfurt has the richest collection of museums in the country. The Städel owns an almost outrageous number of masterpieces and a world-class collection ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The Museum of Modern Art also boasts a first-class collection. Frankfurt’s vibrant music scene includes jazz musicians of a particularly high caliber. Equally noteworthy is the deceptively, surprisingly strong local apple wine, Frankfurter Ebbelwoi. About 1500 trains pass through the city every day, so you can reach practically any place in Germany from here. To the charming romantic mountain town of Marburg, 100 km north of Frankfurt, a train leaves every hour. The atmosphere of the lively student town full of historic and lovingly restored half-timbered houses from the 15th century is best experienced on the numerous café terraces and in the smoky pubs, from which noise and laughter spill out at night onto the cobblestone streets of the city center.

Frankfurt, Germany

Photo: pixabay/Philippsaal

Rhine Valley

The Rhine is at its most romantic between Mainz and Koblenz, where dramatic landscapes full of fertile vineyards on steep slopes, numerous impressive castles and dreamy little villages appear around every bend. Every small village here celebrates at least one wine festival a year. The most famous is the Rhine in Flames, a whole series of festivals in which water, lighting and fireworks combine to create sensational visual effects. The best time to visit the Rhine Valley is at the beginning of spring or in late autumn, when the swarms of tourists have lost their way. The very best way to experience the Rhine Valley is by boat. A more rewarding romantic alternative is a cruise on the Moselle.

Not far north of Koblenz is Cologne, with its wonderful cathedral crowned by two magnificent Gothic towers. However, there is much more to see here than just the cathedral. South of Frankfurt is Heidelberg with its magnificent Renaissance castle.

Rhine Valley, Germany

Photo: pixabay/mobasoft

Off the Beaten Track: Germany‘s Lesser Known Cities You Must Visit

Germany’s big cities, like Berlin or Munich, may get lots of visitors, but the country is also home to some of Europe’s most charming (small) towns that should really be on your itinerary, including these.

  • Bamberg
  • Celle
  • Freiburg
  • Lindau
  • Lübeck
  • Regensburg
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • Schwerin
  • Stuttgart
  • Trier
  • Weimar
Bamberg, Germany

Bamberg Town Hall | Photo: pixabay/591360

Breathtaking National Parks in Germany – A Nature Lover‘s Paradise

The following are the 16 national parks of Germany.

  • Bavarian Forest National Park
  • Berchtesgaden National Park
  • Black Forest National Park
  • Eifel National Park
  • Hainich National Park
  • Harz National Park
  • Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park
  • Jasmund National Park
  • Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
  • Lower Oder Valley National Park
  • Müritz National Park
  • Saxon Switzerland National Park
  • Wadden Sea National Park
  • Western Pomerania Lagoon National Park
Germany - Saxon Switzerland

The Bastei Bridge | Photo: pixabay/Julius_Silver

Most Beautiful Lakes in Germany That Will Blow Your Mind

Germany has so many truly stunning lakes showcasing the country’s pristine natural beauty! Whether you are in search of water sports, a health and wellness break, or you want to check out some exciting sightseeing, you will find something for you in our list of the most beautiful lakes in Germany.

  • Alpsee
  • Bodensee
  • Brombachsee
  • Chiemsee
  • Eibsee
  • Fünfseenland (Starnberger See, Ammersee, Wörthsee, Pilsensee and Weßlinger See)
  • Königssee
  • Müritzsee
  • Mummelsee
  • Schluchsee
  • Steinhuder Meer
  • Tegernsee & Spitzingsee
  • Titisee
  • Walchensee
  • Zwischenahner Meer
Germany - Chiemsee

Chiemsee | Photo: pixabay/Julius_Silver

Fairy Tale Castles And Palaces In Germany You Cannot Miss

Middle Age castles and palaces built by the European nobility are among the most important buildings in the German architectural history. It is estimated that there are around 25 thousand castles throughout the whole country. The difference between castles and palaces is that the first were built for defense in a battle while the second were designed more as only a residence for the wealthy noblemen of the time.

We have listed few of the most famous castles and of the country.

  • Braunfels Castle
  • Burghausen Castle
  • Cochem Castle
  • Drachenburg Castle, Bonn
  • Eltz Castle near the Moselle River
  • Frankenstein Castle near Darmstadt
  • Heidelberg Castle
  • Herrenchiemsee Castle
  • Hohenschwangau Castle
  • Hohenzollern Castle
  • Lichtenstein
  • Löwenberg Castle, Kassel
  • Mespelbrunn Water Castle
  • Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau
  • Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam
  • Schwerin Castle
  • Wartburg Castle in Eisenach
  • Wernigerode Castle
Germany: Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Spend Time In Germany’s Most Beautiful Parks And Gardens

  • Azalea and Rhododendron Park, Kromlau
  • English Garden, Munich
  • Flower Island, Mainau (Lake Constance)
  • Herrenhäuser Gärten, Hanover
  • Sanssouci Park, Potsdam
  • Tiergarten, Berlin
Germany - English Garden in Munich

English Garden, Munich | Photo: pixabay/designerpoint

Drive the Most Scenic Roads in Germany

Do you like road trips? Germany is a car lovers’ dream and the perfect place to hop in the car and make the journey your reward.

Germany offers many scenic drives and themed roads that lead you past quaint villages, medieval castles, and unspoiled countryside. Here are the roads best traveled in Germany.

  • The German Wine Route or Wine Road (German: Deutsche Weinstraße).
  • The Schwarzwaldhochstraße or Black Forest High Road.
  • Rossfeldpanoramastraße.
Scenic Drives in Germany

Enjoy Authentic German Food and Drinks

  • A full German Frühstück is a must to try in the morning.
  • Coffee and cakes in the afternoon is a wonderful tradition to take time to relax during your day.
  • Try the different recipes of potato salad and sauerkraut.
  • Choose among the hundreds of types of sausages like the “Currywurst”.
  • Find your favorite type of beer and eat a giant “Brezel” with it.
  • Drink purity law beers in a picturesque beer garden or hall in Bavaria.
Currywurst

Delicious Currywurst | Photo: © pixabay/berkemeyer

Catch Germany’s Most Popular Festivals

Festivals in Germany are known to be among the loudest and largest in the world, with millions banding together to celebrate the country’s culture, beer, and food. During annual holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the cities come alive with vibrant markets, street parades, and beautiful costumes all day long.

 

  • Karneval in Cologne (February): Dress up in wacky costumes during one of Germany’s most colorful festivals.
  • Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin (Mid-February): Meet your favorite celebrities at this renowned film festival.
  • Rhein in Flammen in Koblenz (May – September): See fireworks displays from a boat on Rhine River.
  • Beethovenfest in Bonn (Late August – Mid-September): Enjoy classical music at Beethoven’s former home.
  • Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg: Catch over 350 live concerts at Hamburg’s largest music festival (September).
  • Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim (September): Enjoy German sausages and wines from the largest wine barrel in the world.
  • Festival-Mediaval in Selb (September): Learn dances from the Middle Age at this folk festival.
  • Oktoberfest in Munich (Late September – Mid-October): Experience the ultimate celebration of Bavarian beer, culture and music.
  • Cannstatter Volksfest near Stuttgart (late September – Mid-October): Enjoy fairground rides and colorful parades at this family-friendly festival.
  • Weihnachtsmärkte all over the country (December): the most famous and popular Christmas Market is in Nuremberg.
Rhein in Flammen

Rhein in Flammen| Photo: © pixabay/Kookay

Germany - Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest in Munich| Photo: © pixabay/Pexels

What is Germany famous for?

  • Cuckoo clocks
  • Autobahn (no speed limits)
  • Premium cars like Porsche, Audi, BMW and Mercedes
  • the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall
  • Beer
  • Bread and Sausages
  • Football
German Bread and Rolls

German Bread and Rolls| Photo: © pixabay/PublicDomainImages

Practical Advice

Etiquette

Germany is a fairly formal society; the following tips will help you avoid faux pas.  

  • Greetings. Shake hands and say ‘Guten Morgen’ (before noon), ‘Guten Tag’ (between noon and 6pm) or ‘Guten Abend’ (after 6pm). Use the formal ‘Sie’ (you) with strangers and only switch to the informal ‘du’ and first names if invited to do so. With friends and children, use first names and ‘du’.
  • Asking for Help. Germans use the same word, ‘Entschuldigung’, to say ‘excuse me’ (to attract attention) and ‘sorry’ (to apologise).
  • Eating & Drinking. At the table, say ‘Guten Appetit’ before digging in. Germans hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. To signal that you have finished eating, lay your knife and fork parallel across your plate. If drinking wine, the proper toast is ‘Zum Wohl’, with beer it’s ‘Prost’.

Tipping

  • Hotels: 1 € per bag is standard. It’s nice to leave a little cash for the room cleaners (1-2 € per day).
  • Restaurants: Bills always include Bedienung (service charge); most people add 5% or 10% unless service was truly abhorrent.
  • Bars: About 5%, rounded to nearest euro. For drinks brought to your table, tip as for restaurants.
  • Taxis: Tip about 10%, rounded to the nearest euro.
  • Toilet attendants: Loose change.

Your expert for Germany

Jens Hämke

Jens Hämke

My name is Jens and i live near Ingolstadt in Bavaria. I studied economics at university and now i do financial works. In my spare time I love to travel and make new friends.

Feel free to ask all your questions in the comment box below.

“ A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” — Tim Cahill

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